Reviewed by Kini
Talia Benson has always been independent, unafraid to go after what she wants, regardless of setback, injury, or failure. But between her father’s conditional tuition payments and her mother’s nagging concern over her emotional state, Talia’s suffocating.
So when Talia meets doctoral student Sean Poole, she can’t figure out why she wants him to control her. Why she wants him to boss her around. Why she wants him to hurt her.
Talia learns the hard way that not all control is created equal, and sometimes submitting is the most empowering thing in the world.
This book was touted as the heroine, Talia’s, journey into a relationship that contains a power exchange/BDSM and it really delivered on that. One of the reasons I shy away from BDSM books, is sometimes the books are really heavy on implements and props that I don’t know or understand, so I get taken out of the book. The author did a great job of not making all the D/s scenes rely on something other than the characters and at one point a whip that she did a great job of explaining just enough without making it too much.
Talia is in college, but this is the first year she was allowed to live on campus. She meets Sean at a lunch with friends and she falls for him instantly. Because he is older and more experienced with D/s lifestyle, he picks up on the signals she is putting out there about her desire to be controlled. Up to now, Talia has attempted to engage in some D/s, bondage type things and didn’t have a partner that understood. It doesn’t take long for her and Sean to engage in the power exchange.
Sean is the best kind of hero. He’s kind and loving and gives Talia what she needs. He asks questions and pays attention to her, as any good Dom should. Talia has a lot of uncertainty about being in a kinky relationship because for so long she’s been receiving messages that what she wants is wrong, bad, weird, abnormal, etc. Sean is always encouraging of her desires and never does it cross over to coercion.
Top Sean moment:
“Do you want to know what I see?” he asked. I closed my eyes, “I see a beautiful woman who isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants. A strong woman who’s chosen to to give up some of her power. I know you didn’t have to give it to me. Talia, baby, I know how to take a compliment.” He leaned over and kissed each of my cheeks, his lips cool and soft against my skin.
A theme that continues throughout the whole book is Talia trying to come to grips with her wants and desires being “okay”. Other than Sean, she doesn’t have anyone to reassure her that being kinky and wanting what she wants is her normal. She has a therapist that is super judgy and this made me very unhappy. Her therapy sessions were a big part of the book and for Talia to willingly spend so much time with a therapist that clearly didn’t want to even try to understand Talia and her desires was infuriating to read. As many things that she and Sean talked about, I don’t understand how her therapist didn’t come up sooner. Talia’s dad is a jerk and pushes her around. Talia definitely has a theme of not standing up for herself, except with Sean.
The conflict felt a little overdrawn yet was still realistic and angsty for a college student who is struggle to find herself, particularly one who is not only dealing with more traditional struggles, but her sexuality as well.
Talia’s self discovery was a decent journey. I enjoyed her and Sean’s relationship. This is told solely from Talia’s POV, but with the nature of the relationship, we got a fair amount of info from Sean that I didn’t miss his POV. The title indicates this is a series, but the secondary characters weren’t overly strong in the book so I am not quite sure who the next book would be about. Overall I was not disappointed but the conflict with the therapist not being a good therapist really bothered me. But I also understand that the therapist served a purpose to the story. I look forward to reading more books by this author.